I was up at 6 a.m. on Saturday and out the door before 7 a.m. while Bob and Dave snoozed. The low priority dealer lottery for 2023 began at 7 a.m.
With no ride to the convention center, I needed to find transportation. I followed the signs in the lobby of Harrah's to the cab stand. No cabs. I asked the valet cashier to direct me to where I can find a cab. She told me to go to the front of the building. At the front, I saw a concierge talking to another guy about fishing. I patiently waited until they completed their conversation. The concierge called me a cab who arrived in minutes. I tipped the concierge 10 bucks.
Easy ride to the convention center. Cost was $15. I think I gave the cabby five or 10 bucks tip, I can't remember. In front of Room 202, I was greeted by the same board members as yesterday. I forgot to fill out my contract and was not let into the room until I had one completed.
Inside Room 202, pictured above, I was stopped at a table just inside the door occupied by two more board members. One of them attempted to look up my name on her multi-sheet documents apparently containing names of dealers. We had the same problem last year. Sure would be nice if they could place my name in their paperwork. Again, like last year, they wrote my name down on a note card and instructed I walk to the front of the room and hand the note card to board member Kevin Savage who was standing in front of a podium talking into a microphone and directing the festivities. I handed my notecard to Mr. Savage and walked over to chat with Gizmo who was sitting at a table with another board member.
Gizmo told me he overslept and just made it to the dealer lottery where, as a board member, he is required to work. We chatted for a while, and he showed me some photos of his grandkids. Cute.
Later in the day, Gizmo would be the talk of the show as apparently $80,000 worth of cards were taken from him in a bait and switch. I do not have any new details other than he still has not received the cards back. He did fill out a report with the Atlantic City police. I would advise that he file a lawsuit immediately.
Anyway, after chatting with Gizmo, I took a seat among the masses of low priority dealers. I saw Sean, who I know from Chicago. We both attended the John Marshall Law School (JMLS) in Chicago. I did not meet Sean at JMLS, even though we were both there at the same time. I actually met him at the old Sun-Times show in Rosemont which he regularly attended with Sandy Olken, a Constitutional Law professor at JMLS. I did not have Sandy for Con Law, I had Professor Connor. If I could go back in time, I would sign up for Sandy's class.
Sean told me that Sandy retired from JMLS. We then realized that all of our professors from JMLS have retired. Sandy is living with his brother in Las Vegas. Sean told me that he is having a great time out there and plans to be in Chicago for the 2023 National. I look forward to seeing them both!
As a higher priority than me, Sean got called up to the board to pick out his booth for 2023. I then saw Mike Johnson and Dennis Barrett from Wisconsin. I went and sat by those guys who reported excellent sales. Mike and Dennis are a higher priority than me, they got called up to the board.
I got up to get another cup of coffee from Room 201. On my return, I saw Nicholas Parsons and chatted with him for a while. I am actually a higher priority than Nick, that was a first. Nick grew up in Wisconsin and now lives is the Chicago area. He runs his own monthly show in suburban Bridgeview. I am going to set up at his show in October. Nick sets up at my Oak Creek show and occasionally brings in autograph guests for me.
I also chatted with two guys who own a card shop in Erie, PA. Nice guys. This was their first time setting up at a National. I've already forgotten their names. I chatted briefly with Jason Galleske from Wisconsin, who is always a friendly face. I see Jason everywhere because he is everywhere. The man must have wings!
I realized I arrived at the dealer lottery much too early and could have stayed in bed another hour or so. I wanted to get there early in case the lottery moved along quickly. I was very concerned with being locked out of the 2023 show as I just barely made the cut for the 2022 show.
After about two hours, Kevin Savage called me up and I learned I was only allowed to pick two booths, not the three I was hoping for. I had a choice between 10 by 10's located in the back room or 10 by 15's located in a side room. I chose the two 10 by 15's because I am splitting the space with three other guys and needed the largest space possible.
The 2023 show will probably be my last splitting space with other guys. In the past it has worked out for me but as my inventory has grown, I now need my own space and hope to have my own booth at the 2024 show, wherever that one may be. Some are saying Cleveland.
The 2023 National dealer space sold out shortly after I picked my booths. Quite a few guys who were set up in Atlantic City were shut out of Chicago.
It also seems like the corporate booths and breakers are taking over the show. Card dealers are being pushed out as evidenced by the large number of card dealers who were unable to secure booths for the 2023 National in Chicago. It is still the greatest show on the planet but I see problems ahead. Will people still attend once all of the card dealers are pushed out?
New management is taking over the show in 2024 but I do not see any benefit with these new guys who all run large shows out east. Ideally, I would like to see another Strongsville type show where all of the dealers are vintage but on a much larger scale. These corporate booths and this breaker stuff is for the birds. The hobby needs a large old school show where vintage dealers are featured. Though I enjoy seeing all the young guys with their man buns and briefcases.
I returned back to my booth much later than I anticipated. This dealer lottery system blows chunks. There has got to be a better way to do this where dealers do not have to abandon their booths during the show.
Kind of a slow morning for sales as was the theme for the whole week. I did meet a collector who grew up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and attended Stevenson High School, where my son is now a senior. The collector now lives in Seattle and flew to Atlantic City for the show.
I also got another chance to walk around. Once again, I saw some great vintage cards. I also ran into Tom and Anita Daniels who were set up right by the front door. This was their 41st National. I don't think there is a higher priority dealer than Tom and Anita. Such nice folks. They were wearing pins showing that this was their 41st National. Gizmo had on a similar pin at the dealer lottery.
Tom and Anita are sort of the godparents of sports card collecting in Madison, WI, as they owned a card shop there for decades. They set up at my Oak Creek show. I observed that they had different inventory in Atlantic City than in Oak Creek where they usually just bring out wax. In AC, they had vintage cards and some publications, including a 1927 Green Bay Packers program, pictured below. Though, they said their best seller had been $1 packs of cards.
Tom told me that when he leaves the show on Sunday, his goal is to make it to Cleveland and spend the night. I figured that would be a good goal for Dave and me as well.
I also saw Frank Pemper, a long-time dealer from Milwaukee. Frank was set up with his son. Like Tom and Anita, Frank and his kids are sooo nice. Frank likes video poker and we discussed our strategy. Neither of us were winning at video poker but we both had some fun.
Back at my booth, my friend Larry Navoy, who was staying in Philadelphia, stopped at Pat's Cheesesteaks on the way in and brought sandwiches for Bob, Dave and me. This was my first real Philly Cheesesteak. Oh my, was it good! At first look, the sandwich looks similar to Chicago's Italian beef sandwiches but I noticed the Philly beef has an entirely different flavor. I wonder what it is flavored with? Absolutely delicious. Thanks Larry!
Shortly after finishing my sandwich, security came over to the booth next door where the kids were selling candy and water. Security advised the kids that they could not sell candy and water at the show. The kids continued to sell their candy and water regardless.
Sales slowed considerably on Saturday, even though there was a very large crowd. Friday sales were lights out. I was still happy with my Saturday sales.
After the show, we went back to Harrah's and back to the AC Hamburger Pub. Once again, childhood hero Bobby Hull was dining in there as well. Larry joined us this time. After dinner, we all split up again. My last night of video poker. I seemed to be able to stretch my money the furthest on this night but still did not get ahead. Total loss for the week was $160. Not bad. Great fun!
Off to bed for the last day of the National.
Below are photos from Day 4 of the 2022 National: